Artificial Intelligence

Chatbots that resurrect the dead: legal experts weigh in on ‘disturbing’ technology

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It was recently revealed that in 2017 Microsoft patented a chatbot that, if built, would digitally resurrect the dead. Using AI and machine learning, the proposed chatbot would bring our digital persona back to life for our family and friends to talk to. When pressed on the technology, Microsoft representatives admitted that the chatbot was “disturbing” and that there were currently no plans to put it into production.

Still, it appears that the technical tools and personal data are in place to make digital reincarnations possible. AI chatbots have already passed the “Turing Test”, which means they’ve fooled other humans into thinking they’re human, too. Meanwhile, most people in the modern world now leave behind enough data to teach AI programs about our conversational idiosyncrasies. Convincing digital doubles may be just around the corner.

But there are currently no laws governing digital reincarnation. Your right to data privacy after your death is far from set in stone, and there is currently no way for you to opt-out of being digitally resurrected. This legal ambiguity leaves room for private companies to make chatbots out of your data after you’re dead.

Our research has looked at the surprisingly complex legal question of what happens to your data after you die. At present, and in the absence of specific legislation, it’s unclear